After months of stoppage, the 2019-20 NBA season appears to be set to return after the league and NBPA agreed on a 22-team competitive format that includes a possible play-in tournament for each conferences’ eight seed.
The 22 teams that are invited are expected to begin training camp at the end of June and head to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., within the first two weeks of July. Teams will get the opportunity to practice and possibly play in a few exhibition games to warm up before regular-season games for seeding purposes.
Initially, the NBA informed teams of a July 31 target date to resume the season. But according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, that may be pushed up to a day earlier:
The NBA is targeting a slightly earlier date for the restart of the season in Orlando, sources tell ESPN: July 30.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 11, 2020
There could be several reasons for the change in start date, such as televisions purposes or a future revision to dates in the previously released scheduled, but it is only a minor change that should not drastically change too much.
The proposed new restart date does indicate that the league is remaining flexible with its schedule and other important events like the NBA Draft and free agency could potentially be moved depending on how things shake out in the coming months.
Even with the season starting a day earlier, the NBA Playoffs figure to still end sometime in October, with the draft happening a few days later. Free agency would happen soon after, giving teams who make it deep into the postseason much less time to prepare and strategize.
The quick turnaround is unavoidable given the circumstances, but the league is also trying to keep the 2020-21 NBA season in mind. While the original projected date for the following season was Dec. 1, the NBPA informed members that is unlikely as they will push for more time for the players to rest and recover.
Aside from the restart date, there are still plenty of details that need to be ironed out before play can officially resume. The most important one is testing protocol, but the league is working diligently with health and government officials on testing procedures, with group testing being one of the more optimal options right now.
Regardless, the thing to focus on is the fact that basketball is making its long awaited return and teams like the Los Angeles Lakers get the opportunity to compete for the 2020 NBA championship. It is unreasonable to expect the players to be in midseason form when play resumes, but hopefully the on-court product improves after things officially get going.